Losing Ground

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by Laura Parker Roerden

I saw a pair of ducks this afternoon, a male and female mallard.
A hard, northwest wind had just begun to bow the smaller pines;
clouds were gathering as the sky suddenly became a drop ceiling.
A storm was coming down the river.

The ducks seemed stalwart against the wind,
though you wouldn’t know it at a quick glance.
They appeared to be treading water to keep from losing ground.
The river crested over a fallen log in their path, sending flecks of water

like shards of glass lit sideways from the storm’s scarce light.
I wondered if they were tired, or felt deterred.
Was that log stopping them on a return trip to their nest?
When would they start to slip backwards into the ease of the current?

Just as I thought they might turn away, the male scooped his
jewel-toned green head into the splash of water coming over the log,
sending rivulets beading down his back. The female followed, diving stiff
bodied, sending a beak full of spray under her shimmering wings upon surfacing.

Two, three, then four more times they let the now
growing cascade of water wash over them,
as they fluttered and opened their feathers like so many fingers
on a hand ready to receive an offering.

I, too, tipped my face towards a wash of rain, now falling,
my palms open to thick drops of days
that must be calculated not by what is lost,
but rather what we find as we struggle to regain.

© Laura Parker Roerden 2017


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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm.


Published by Laura Parker Roerden

Laura Parker Roerden shares a love of what nature can teach us. Writer, public speaker and supportor of youth to boldly know and save the wilds. She is the founding director of Ocean Matters and a fourth generation farmer and thinks today’s young people are reason to be hopeful about the many environmental problems facing us. She lives on a family farm in Massachusetts with her husband, three boys, and an assortment of fruit trees and farm animals.

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